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Kennedy Kin Wins Point

The murder trial of Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel will be held in Stamford, a judge ruled Thursday, rejecting a prosecution request to move the case.

Judge John F. Kavanewsky Jr. said prosecutors had not proven why the high-profile case should be moved to Bridgeport.

Skakel, 40, is charged in the October 1975 beating death of Martha Moxley, who was bludgeoned with a golf club on her wealthy family's estate in Greenwich. Skakel and Moxley were both 15 at the time.

No arrests were made for more than 24 years. Skakel was charged in the killing in January 2000 and later arraigned as a juvenile. A judge ruled in January that Skakel should be tried as an adult.

Martha Moxley

Skakel's attorney, Michael Sherman, wanted the trial to remain in Stamford, the city closest to Greenwich.

Prosecutors had argued that under the rules in effect at the time of the killing, major cases were heard in Bridgeport Superior Court. The judicial district in Stamford, which includes Greenwich, was created in 1981.

Legal experts not directly involved in the case had speculated that a jury pool drawn from the affluent Stamford area might be more sympathetic to Skakel and his wealthy background than jurors from blue-collar Bridgeport.

But Sherman had said he felt jurors from either city could be fair to Skakel.

"It was not an unexpected decision and it's not a momentous decision," said State's Attorney Jonathan Benedict. "In terms of either side receiving a fair hearing, I don't see where venue is a factor."

Benedict, whose office is in Bridgeport, said the prosecution sought the move because of convenience. He said the smaller Stamford courthouse does not have adequate space to hold witnesses.

Skakel is the son of Rushton Skakel, the brother of Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel.

A probable cause hearing is scheduled for April 18.

By John Christoffersen
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